Thursday, April 24, 2014

God Unbound (chapter 18 of 19)


Chapter eighteen (of 19)
 
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and the Evolution of Religion
 
  About Teilhard
 
Teilhard (tay AHR) de Chardin (d' shar DAA) was a Jesuit priest who was also a paleontologist whith many accompishments. One of the black marks on his record is his endorsement of the Piltdown Man hoax. But, he was honest and acknowledged his error. He was a prolific writer. His most famous work was a book entitled The Phenomenon of Man
 
 
The Evolution of Religion
 
Religion has evolved with Homo sapiens, just as tools, clothing, forms of fire, agriculture and transportation have. They are all tools, contrived appendages separate from the body, used to accomplish a purpose. The universe of ideas, the ground of which is the human mind, is a world of tools or at least of token representations of them. The mind-ground is the first tool.   
 
Tools used by humans have always been the focus of paleontological investigation of the development of human species. Ancient human tools have been found all over the world. Modern human tools cover Earth more completely than they used to. Humans themselves surround the globe and their electromagnetic tools engulf it. We are eating the world with our combination of human omnipresence, ubiquitous artifact and fertile imagination that recognizes no limit.
 
All of our tools have developed from simple, primitive forms that were sophisticated enough to accomplish their elementary purpose and so were still quite advanced. Our most refined inventions are exalted combinations of primal models. Religion is no exception.
 
Teilhard invented the idea of the noosphere as a tool to dig into the concept of religion. He wanted to prove the value of the concept of evolution, of natural selection, as a force in human intellectual development. Every other idea evolves, so religion can be no different. It is a part of the noosphere and develops with it.
 
Teilhard maintained that the noosphere evolves along a trajectory that has a nonrandom component vector. He was a scientist who loved physics. He was a paleontologist who loved ancient and modern tools. Any tool has to have a purpose. If the purpose of the noosphere as a tool is survival of the human species, where is survival leading us? What is the direction of this nonrandom vector?  
 
The noosphere shares in the tendency of natural selection to favor more complex organisms as available environmental niches become crowded and less hospitable.The direction of evolution of the noosphere as an agent of the collective human organism, as part of a new phenomenon, is dominated by the development of philosophy and religion, especially of religion. Religion tries to know God or whatever profound alias with which He is labeled.

The noosphere exists in space but also exists in time. From man”s earliest days our ideas have influenced our actions and caused us to fashion tools. Our mental tools included religious notions of a simple Great Spirit or Godhead or of many gods that helped us to organize our feelings and justify our self awareness. Those feelings about God or the gods were shaped by the experiences of early man who was a hunter and his gods were the animals he hunted.
 
As mankind moved into the agricultural village environment from a nomadic and hunter/gatherer existence, experience changed and religion followed suit. Fertility was prized and the fecundity of the earth under the influence of the sun and moon was most important. Gods were imagined that reflected those human needs.
 
When cities grew the need changed again. A more cosmopolitan concept of religion was sought. A single Almighty God was seen in the works of man and nature or a Ground of Being was felt as the underlayment of man”s existence and by extension of all existence.
 
Simply put, today there are six main perspectives of God: Christian, Judeo-Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, Chinese Traditional and Primal-Indigenous. They respectively represent a single united triune God, a single unified God, a many faceted God, a Ground of All Being, ancestral God and multiple gods or polytheistic God. As cultures and peoples evolved their religions evolved with them and their notions of God got simpler in some respects, moving from polytheism to monotheism, but more mystical, foundational and consequential in other major ways.
 
Evolution of Homo sapiens has not stopped, nor has cultural evolution ceased. The world of the works of Man, our artifacts, parallels the world of our minds. Expanding knowledge and developing ideas enclosed by the parallel evolving noosphere are following a trajectory that has a particularly clear direction. Knowledge of God is the most important vector component of this trajectory and it is clearly pointed at completion of a vision, not depletion, a gain in resolution, not a coarsening.  
 
All knowledge, all ideas, must participate in the completion of the trend toward full and perfect knowledge of God. The entire noosphere must evolve toward the point of fullest divine recognition. Science and philosophy, mathematics and engineering, psychology, biology and art as well as religion must converge on this Omega Point, which exists in the indefinite, even infininite future. The Omega Point defines an asymptotic limit.
 
The psychological analysis of religion as Joseph Campbell's Myth must join this diffuse caravan. The evolution of humans as psychological beings must join it. Evolution per se must lead the way. To complement rather than critique ideas of God, Joseph Campbell”s insight requires only that evolution itself cannot be wrong, that it is meaningful, as long as humans survive! These trends lasting millennia, indeed millions of years, cannot be explained away or ignored.
 
That evolutionary processes may be occurring on trillions of planets throughout the universe right now means that the process of acquiring more perfect knowledge of God invests space-time itself with the property that it may evolve toward knowledge of God. Therefore, the noosphere engulfs all existence. The entire universe trends toward full acquisition and recognition of divine consciousness through sentient beings everywhere throughout time.
 
The ecology of religions
 
A great metaphor for world religions is of a vast climax forest. As a biologist specializing in paleontology, Teilhard would have liked this comparison. As a prophetic nonconformist Jesuit priest with profound respect for the natural world, he would have loved it.
 
A climax forest is a collection of various kinds of living trees on land where they have lived for many generations without substantial change. No neophyte tree types invade their territory, no veteran types fade out. Along with the trees an established undergrowth flourishes. The soil is stable, the microclimates are level and constant. Insect life and other animal populations are diverse and prolific but unchanging, invariant within fairly narrow limits. Evolution is restricted to responses to geologic change, climatic change or incremental change in the subsidiary flora and fauna reflective of these. The climax forest does not move unless these factors somehow move it, but then only gradually over centuries or millennia.
 
The climax forest is a little ecological world of itself, a big natural terrarium. Its ecology resists externally imposed disturbance, having internal buffer systems. Invading trees, plants or animals have little chance of success there because all the available niches are filled and cooperative and even symbiotic relations between established species favor them over newcomers.
 
The arboreal types of world religion stand in the midst of human intellectual life as a forest of spiritual strength. They all furnish something vital to the mix, without the history of which the structure would collapse and all of its elements die. Eliminate any and chaotic invading species would overcome it and establish foreign colonies incapable of providing any sense of soul, any feeling of humanity. Together they do work and evolve slowly toward an ever increasing total consciousness of God, however He may be called. There is a force at work here that is contrary to entropy and allied with Ilya Prigogine”s non-equilibrium thermodynamic dissipative process of self‑organization.
 
This force moves the evolution of consciousness to higher stages, toward God. It may as well be called the Holy Spirit. The next step on Earth will be to completely unify this consciousness and globalize it. This higher consciousness will not become Homo machina, but Homo fraternalis, a feeling of family, a sense of sister- and brotherhood between every individual around the planet.
 
The religions of the world provide the phenomenon of human consciousness with multiple lenses, periscopes, microscopes and telescopes whereby a pure foundation of being or a both imminent and transcendent divinity can be viewed from multiple perspectives. This many eyed viewing will be available to everyone who is tolerant enough to overcome nearsighted blindness and see across the cosmos to the united lands within. God cannot be known to us apart from Revelation. But we certainly can see him by studying the forest and its whole ecology, meaning its undergrowth of science and technology as well as its spiritual timber. This means that Revelation is ongoing and is largely embodied by studies of both Science and Religion. 

Earth is covered by forests of antennae and surrounded by our electromagnetic transmission signals that help to interconnect the organism that this climax community has become. We are not confronted with a choice of whether to characterize and categorize human development according to any predetermined procrustean knowledge framework. We are presented with an opportunity to recognize a phenomenon representative of a new paradigm wherein evolution in general and the trend of all human knowledge in particular has a preferred direction, a nonrandom vector, an axis pointed at God. We will employ greatly more sophisticated efforts to open-endedly redefine and rerefine His Word. The Human Phenomenon soon shall not even attempt to bind God.
 
Some will like this metaphor, some will not. It is only one metaphor of many that may be profitably applied. Each one offers a fragment of truth. Each one should be accepted with suspended disbelief until the whole class of such metaphor is understood. When connotations of as many as possible of all this potential metaphor are known and felt, pure Truth will out. God lives.
 


 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

God Unbound (Chapter 19 of 19)

Installment 24

I.              Chapter Nineteen         Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
                                               and the evolution of religion
                                                  lines like this are for outline purposes.
 
Chapter nineteen
 
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and the Evolution of Religion
 
A.           About Teilhard
 
About Teilhard
 
Teilhard de Chardin (tay AHR d shar DAA) was a Jesuit priest and an accomplished anthropologist. He wrote a book called The Phenomenon of Man.
 
B.           The Evolution of Religion
 
The Evolution of Religion
 
Religion has evolved with Homo sapiens, just as tools, clothing, forms of fire, agriculture and transportation have. They are all tools, contrived appendages separate from the body, used to accomplish a purpose. The universe of ideas, the ground of which is the human mind, is a world of tools or at least of token representations of them. The mind-ground is the first tool.   
 
Tools used by humans have always been the focus of paleontological investigation of the development of human species. Ancient human tools have been found all over the world. Modern human tools cover Earth more completely than they used to. Humans themselves surround the globe and their electromagnetic tools engulf it. We are eating the world with our combination of human omnipresence, ubiquitous artifact and fertile imagination that recognizes no limit.
 
All of our tools have developed from simple, primitive forms that were sophisticated enough to accomplish their elementary purpose and so were still quite advanced. Our most refined inventions are exalted combinations of primal models. Religion is no exception.
 
Teilhard invented the idea of the noosphere as a tool to dig into the concept of religion. He wanted to prove the value of the concept of evolution, of natural selection, as a force in human intellectual development. Every other idea evolves, so religion can be no different. It is a part of the noosphere and develops with it.
 
Teilhard maintained that the noosphere evolves along a trajectory that has a nonrandom component vector. He was a scientist who loved physics. He was a paleontologist who loved ancient and modern tools. Any tool has to have a purpose. If the purpose of the noosphere as a tool is survival of the human species, where is survival leading us? What is the direction of this nonrandom vector?  
 
The noosphere shares in the tendency of natural selection to favor more complex organisms as available environmental niches become crowded and less hospitable.The direction of evolution of the noosphere as an agent of the collective human organism, as part of a new phenomenon, is dominated by the development of philosophy and religion, especially of religion. Religion tries to know God or whatever profound alias with which He is labeled.

The noosphere exists in space but also exists in time. From man’s earliest days our ideas have influenced our actions and caused us to fashion tools. Our mental tools included religious notions of a simple Great Spirit or Godhead or of many gods that helped us to organize our feelings and justify our self awareness. Those feelings about God or the gods were shaped by the experiences of early man who was a hunter and his gods were the animals he hunted.
 
As mankind moved into the agricultural village environment from a nomadic and hunter/gatherer existence, experience changed and religion followed suit. Fertility was prized and the fecundity of the earth under the influence of the sun and moon was most important. Gods were imagined that reflected those human needs.
 
When cities grew the need changed again. A more cosmopolitan concept of religion was sought. A single Almighty God was seen in the works of man and nature or a Ground of Being was felt as the underlayment of man’s existence and by extension of all existence.
 
Simply put, today there are six main perspectives of God: Christian, Judeo-Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, Chinese Traditional and Primal-Indigenous. They respectively represent a single united triune God, a single unified God, a many faceted God, a Ground of All Being, ancestral God and multiple gods or polytheistic God. As cultures and peoples evolved their religions evolved with them and their notions of God got simpler in some respects, moving from polytheism to monotheism, but more mystical, foundational and consequential in other major ways.
 
Evolution of Homo sapiens has not stopped, nor has cultural evolution ceased. The world of the works of Man, our artifacts, parallels the world of our minds. Expanding knowledge and developing ideas enclosed by the parallel evolving noosphere are following a trajectory that has a particularly clear direction. Knowledge of God is the most important vector component of this trajectory and it is cleary pointed at completion of a vision, not depletion, a gain in resolution, not a coarsening.  
 
All knowledge, all ideas, must participate in the completion of the trend toward full and perfect knowledge of God. The entire noosphere must evolve toward the point of fullest divine recognition. Science and philosophy, mathematics and engineering, psychology, biology and art as well as religion must converge on this Omega Point, which exists in the indefinite, even infininite future. The Omega Point defines an asymptotic limit.
 
The psychological analysis of religion as Myth must join this diffuse caravan. The evolution of humans as psychological beings must join it. Evolution per se must lead the way. To complement rather than critique ideas of God, Joseph Campbell’s insight requires only that evolution itself cannot be wrong, that it is meaningful, as long as humans survive! These trends lasting millennia, indeed millions of years, cannot be explained away or ignored.
 
That evolutionary processes may be occurring on trillions of planets throughout the universe right now means that the process of acquiring more perfect knowledge of God invests space-time itself with the property that it may evolve toward knowledge of God. Therefore, the noosphere engulfs all existence. The entire universe trends toward full acquisition and recognition of divine consciousness through sentient beings everywhere throughout time.
 
 
C.           The ecology of religions 
 
 
The ecology of religions
 
A great metaphor for world religions is of a vast climax forest. As a biologist specializing in paleontology, Teilhard would have liked this comparison. As a prophetic nonconformist Jesuit priest with profound respect for the natural world, he would have loved it.
 
A climax forest is a collection of various kinds of living trees on land where they have lived for many generations without substantial change. No neophyte tree types invade their territory, no veteran types fade out. Along with the trees an established undergrowth flourishes. The soil is stable, the microclimates are level and constant. Insect life and other animal populations are diverse and prolific but unchanging, invariant within fairly narrow limits. Evolution is restricted to responses to geologic change, climatic change or incremental change in the subsidiary flora and fauna reflective of these. The climax forest does not move unless these factors somehow move it, but then only gradually over centuries or millennia.
 
The climax forest is a little ecological world of itself, a big natural terrarium. Its ecology resists externally imposed disturbance, having internal buffer systems. Invading trees, plants or animals have little chance of success there because all the available niches are filled and cooperative and even symbiotic relations between established species favor them over newcomers.
 
The arboreal types of world religion stand in the midst of human intellectual life as a forest of spiritual strength. They all furnish something vital to the mix, without the history of which the structure would collapse and all of its elements die. Eliminate any and chaotic invading species would overcome it and establish foreign colonies incapable of providing any sense of soul, any feeling of humanity. Together they do work and evolve slowly toward an ever increasing total consciousness of God, however He may be called. There is a force at work here that is contrary to entropy and allied with Ilya Prigogine’s nonequilibrium thermodynamic dissipative process of self‑organization.
 
This force moves the evolution of consciousness to higher stages, toward God. It may as well be called the Holy Spirit. The next step on Earth will be to completely unify this consciousness and globalize it. This higher consciousness will not become Homo machina, but Homo fraternalis, a feeling of family, a sense of sister- and brotherhood between every individual around the planet.
 
The religions of the world provide the phenomenon of human consciousness with multiple lenses, periscopes, microscopes and telescopes whereby a pure foundation of being or a both imminent and transcendent divinity can be viewed from multiple perspectives. This many eyed viewing will be available to everyone who is tolerant enough to overcome nearsighted blindness and see across the cosmos to the united lands within. God cannot be known to us apart from Revelation. But we certainly can see him by studying the forest and its whole ecology, meaning its undergrowth of science and technology as well as its spritual timber. This means that Revelation is ongoing and is largely embodied by studies of both Science and Religion.

Earth is covered by the forest and surrounded by our electromagnetic transmission signals that help to interconnect the organism that this climax community has become. We are not confronted with a choice of whether to characterize and categorize human development according to any predetermined procrustean knowledge framework. We are presented with an opportunity to recognize a phenomenon representative of a new paradigm wherein evolution in general and the trend of all human knowledge in particular has a preferred direction, a nonrandom vector, an axis pointed at God. We will employ greatly more sophisticated efforts to open-endedly redefine and rerefine His Word. The Human Phenomenon soon shall not even attempt to bind God.
 
Some will like this metaphor, some will not. It is only one metaphor of many that may be profitably applied. Each one offers a fragment of truth. Each one should be accepted with suspended disbelief until the whole class of such metaphor is understood. When connotations of as many as possible of all this potential metaphor are known and felt, pure Truth will out. God lives.

God Unbound, epilog & ekalog

Installment 25

I.              Epilog/Ekalog,  Rise O Rise, Version 2, 4ja03  
         {such lines are present for outlining purposes}
 
EPILOG and EKALOG
 
I composed this epilog almost 34 years ago. It still summarizes my general feelings about life and my relationship to other humans: I live through my love of mankind and I cannot help but teach. I must comport myself with a certain kind of authority and with the assurance and self confidence that comes from experience and innate quality. But I do not try to flaunt my status as a teacher. I do not stand on any sort of insistent  legalistic authority that might have been given to express my own very human bearing.
 
 
 Reprinted from the ELM BARK, Elmhurst College, of May 2, 1968
 
 
Epilog
 
Rise O Rise
 
 
Reprinted from the ELM BARK
May 2, 1968
 
 
Man sits like a little frog, wondering in his ignorance at the size of his pond whose shores she has never really endeavored to touch, whose deepest depths she has never swum, whose enigmatic veils of mist she has never fully penetrated. And being Man, not a frog, she impatiently draws conclusions about herself and the way in which she grows and becomes in each second as she lives her little life and more fully entangles her being with the world's.
 
He is not really so unique among living things yet his alienation from the living crowd makes him feel all the more lonely, as if he were. He deprecates himself and belittles his natural appurtenances. He subjects to cruel existential criticism his mind, his body, his emotions, in fact, his entire being, in his efforts to compensate for the reflections of pride, arrogance, gross cruelty and utter greed which he sees reflected in his own eyes.
 
We say to ourselves that Man is alone in her search for destiny. We alienate ourselves from the main of Nature, even as we destroy our own mother with our plows and pollution. This place we live in is found so hostile, so angrily determined to eliminate us, yet so innocent of our blame and undeserved of our fury that we seem to grope for a way to escape her dying glance, her death-stare. And so Man, the little frog who doesn't know, either denies the intrinsic goodness of what she sues to demolish (by hurling insults, calling Matter a bastard, and rejecting the existence of God) or she bows down so low before the majesty of reality and speaks philosophically so little of herself that all reason for living, all joy, all love, all trust and comradeship dies in her soul as surely as though she stabs dejectedly into her own heart. 
But it is indeed true that Man is so inextricably bound up in the workings of the world that it is difficult to express, even to a small extent, the magnitude of awesomeness implied by his own existence. Instead of being humbled by the fantastically intricate way his own beautifully complex body merges with and changes with the vast Glory of the Cosmos, he should be delighted, even ecstatic over the fact of his fortunate splendid association with such an inspiringly stupendous display we call all of existence, reality, the universe.
 
The stars hurtle through space at speeds unimaginable, swirling gases spin into galaxies a trillion miles across, dust and gaseous vapors coalesce to form suns and planets, helical structures of molecular-mud and chemical-clay rise up to be Man, atoms bounce wildly in response to secret laws while electrons fly after protons in an endless sequence of macrocosmic chemistry. Yet we are not satisfied.
 
We want more. We reach for a proud aristocracy of being which itself does not exist, or we diminish our own worth and strive for freedom from human ‘frailty’ when the science in us grasps after ‘objectivity’ and ‘pure logic’. Somehow the grandeur of our all-thing is dispersed by the thinker who either elevates the idea of humanity to the heights of deity or plunges mankind's self image into a vast mess of blood and gore that the charnel house of science dumps into our minds.
 
The glass through which we look is soiled. It is defiled by guilt and pain, which we do not wish, fogged and darkened by conceited thought, ostentation and deceit, which we have made. When people finally realize their rightful place in the family of beings, when there is no jealousy or contempt, then will every human being look through the gemlike quality of his own existence at the scintillating quality of reality and then will all people live peacefully together in mutual love and trust.
 
But what are we doing to further this, our own cause? What steps have we taken to descend from our pedestal and rise to self respect? The steps we have taken are steps backward. We burn Nature and choke ourselves in the smoke of her funeral pyre as it belches from the stacks of a million furnaces and roils from thousands of furious bonfires within murderously torched rainforests. We destroy whole temperate coniferous woods so that we effeminate little pipsqueaks might wipe ourselves clean with billions of rolls of soft absorbent pulp, when the filth we remove from our posteriors serves worldwide to muck the very waters we often have to drink.
 
Man, O Man, are you an idiot or a lunatic? Stop this foolishness or you will be neither for you will be stone dead, extinct from your own poisonous wastes! Rise from your nightmare sleep and see the wonder and loveliness in the world around you. For once, try to love the beauty that you are destroying as you toss in that fitful slumber of apathy! It is not too late. Yet.
 
There is still hope that you can put a garden where there is now a cesspool.
 
Or, is it really true that you do not care anymore? Is it true that you never did care at all? What justice there will be if noble minds do not triumph! What poetic justice to warm the heart of this shaggy maned ape to see himself and his siblings pay for their stupid, septic greedy lust!
 
When all the coal is burned and the last tree felled, when the final drop of oil flames up in choking soot and fumes, when the only clean sparkling pool of water left is finally raped with deadly chemical insemination, when atomic wastes join the noxious gases, dusts and mists of horrid death that hangs far beyond the last, clean fresh breath of air, then justice will come.

All life on earth will cease growing and will degenerate and Man with it. Else, only Man will long suffer as his pamper‑medicine keeps his sickly genes from dying - when a howling wind whips the grit and ash of his dead, sere planet and vengefully smites his hollowed cheeks.
 
But I know you do care! Make those who covet lucre and power pay for the beauty they have stolen from you and put in their bank accounts! Make them bring back the scenes of natural wonder every person needs to see each and every day or go urban‑city mad! If you do not see loveliness and grandeur but instead profound ugliness and profaned nature, stop the takers and make them give, for once.
 
And you men and you women, 0 Mankind, have the capacity, the will and the power to lift this babe, Humanity, up. Lift her up to the highest places where she can see the stars shine blackly in a sunlit sky. Greatness of the Universe can devolve upon you, but only if you follow the Path of Good for the true benefit of this our own Son of Man, Child of God. Let Jesus come again every single microsecond of every single day in billions of different places. And lest the dreams of countless, once loved little children die in demeaning bigotry, furious hatred, incessant war and soulless insanity, lest the green hills and cool dark forests smother under your presence,
 
Rise again, O Mankind, rise again and be MAN!
  

EKALOG        (DRAFT)
 
I call this a draft because I know I cannot have the last word. So, I leave open the probability that I will have more to add. Maybe I can’t have the final say, but I can try.
 
 
EKALOG
 
In the Residuum 
 
 
 
Church Senility Defined and Even Refined
 
I tilt at windmills and my Holy Grail is in the quest to outdo La Mancha. To follow this Golden Bliss is my revealed path to the Pauline Prize. It is I, however, who hold up mirrors. The only failing of the Church is its unswerving blasphemous worship of Institution. Even the most dedicated disciple of biblical authenticity, now euphemized as historical informism, falls into the trap of mistaking bare leadership for a vaunted high calling and ‘conservatism’ for plain responsibility.
 
I so furiously detest the usurpation of the word ‘conservative’ by people who are everything but. Perhaps they should use ‘restrictive’ or ‘contractive’ or ‘constrictive’ or all three to refer to themselves and others like them. It is a type of extreme fastidiousness that seems impossible to influence or counterbalance. Such people >are< the very walls that divide Christians. Not stones in a foundation but bricks in a disconnecting battlement, constrictivists feel utterly righteous and claim profound prayerful ordination by God Himself through the agency of a supremely understanding or a grimly stern Jesus who speaks utter kindness to them every day and even every hour.
 
Each aspect of church life is a sacrament to them and cannot be much changed nor regularly morphed and certainly not discarded. Each lush green area must be protected like prized animal territory, excluding undesirables, defended as does the male guard his mate and hunting zone or female shields offspring. They are of the snake's old skin. Yet they think that their way must be THE way, for the sake of the flock! Those intricately delicate glass lambs.
 
But in another milieu this would be deemed schizophrenic delusion. In their domain, schizophrenic hallucination is deemed desirable as socially acceptable ‘vision from God’. I think this is wonderful. It may even be true, probably is, for the schizoid shamanic personality is the primal man or woman of God who has been essential not merely for human survival, but for Homo's unprecedented success.
 
Still, it concerns me that the same men and women who pretend to TEACH actually seem never to truly learn. Oh, they have a policy of accepting instruction, even of avidly desiring it, but only from sources they deem qualified. The surprising wellspring goes unrecognized because it is not only unexpected, it is secretly spurned a priori.
 
Pastors and other types of ministers speak as if with authority to their lambs, as shepherds speak to their flock, not really caring to hear or to be influenced or to be changed by the yammering response. They wish only for their soothing cleric voice to tranquilize and bring docile peace.
Hair is a problem
 
It is so predictable! I just smile when so lectured. Hair is a problem. I have hair. I just smile at lectures on my hair. But I have a very high forehead as does my fourteen year old daughter. She does not have a receding hairline. When she wore bangs her face looked one hundred times better, almost like a Vogue style model. Now, with her hair swept severely back into a ponytail, her forehead is prominent and she looks to be a librarian, post menopause. So, I do not like the look of my own mountainous ‘north face’.
 
Unwilling to reflect the image of my dad every day in the mirror, I have begun to comb my hair forward with the intention of eventually styling it when it finally grows out enough so as not to indicate an egghead. God truly knows I do need to avoid that!
But experienced and well accomplished arbiters of taste who should know better still object. Even my pastor calls my ongoing effort to change styles narcissistic. Baloney. And remember what I said about the ability to recognize it when it is seen or heard. This is more important than being able to identify true prophesy.
 
The point is that there is absolutely nothing that churchmen feel unqualified to loose or bind. The Church is monumentally prideful in its insistence, that is, it utterly lacks humility when judging behavior. And judge it does, for there is no area of human life or experience that the Church leaves alone and for which it delegates sole authority and responsibility to the brainless lamb.
 
Yet the Church selfishly claims such responsibility for itself, ignorant of facts and of wisdom that the delegation of responsibility is what God is all about. Father is the Delegator. Son is the One to whom Responsibility is Delegated, we are Christ's brothers. Spirit is Love of Responsibility: Duty in Humility.
 
When I should see a truly humble church, pigs, elephants and whales shall surely fly.
 
 
*******
 
Dear Revered Ministers:
 
I am sorry. You just refuse to understand and to see what you are really doing. You are personally why I do not attend church regularly, as I feel much the same as does my benignly skeptical spiritually closest friend. You ARE why most people in the U.S. avoid the institutional church >and always will<. Almost all of us claim to believe in God, however, and that is good. Sure, there are one hundred forty million nominal registered Christians in this country. How many actually attend very regularly? Do these really consider themselves some kind of Johannine Elect?

Worldwide there are 2 billion nominal Christians, but there are 3 billion who will not even look at us, despite our having ostentatiously postured for them constantly over the span of over 20 centuries. That should have been enough time. Majority rules - and our market share is shrinking.
 
Now, can you still "take it"?
   
p.s.      Oops! Are there angel pigs, satanic elephants and spirit whales?                                                  

cc   Steve Wing, RIP


 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

NeoChristianity

NeoChristianity is the oldest form of Christianity. It takes Christ as a real person who was a real human being, who knew exactly who He was. Who he is is described by Saint Athanasius, the Bishop of Alexandria from 328 -373. He attended the Council of Nice and is said to have submitted his own version of a creed to be voted on by the council members. Instead, the Nicean creed was adopted. But, Athanasius and language from the Athanasian Creed is still respected today.

"For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity; to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord..." This is a key verity pronounced by Athanasius. Early Christians acknowledged themselves to be heirs to the throne God, just as was Jesus Christ. As Christians are children of God and Christ is His Son, we Christians are brothers of Jesus. When a Christian looks into the eyes of another Christian, indeed into the eyes of any other human being, he sees God Himself. Jesus literally comes again into the hearts of every Christian when we shake hands, hug one-another or greet. We are born again into each other's heart.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Introduction


Part One


The following two sections are offered to the reader in the hope that he or she may understand where the rest of this book (God Unbound) is aimed. Like driving a car too fast, one cannot really steer language to a conclusion, one can only aim it. I read John Spong's Why Christianity Must Change or Die
[i] and was impressed by the seriousness of some of the issues he raises. I feel his book simply must be answered with urgent attention and I do not see anything filling this bill yet. So I think I'll give it a whack.

I apologize for the title. I mean no disrespect for God or for believers in Him. I only mean that some of our talk about God has attempted to limit Him and I deny all limits on God and declare that he is free of all boundaries and cannot be shackled. He is unbound in the sense of now having no manacles of the type forged by human language and in the sense that He never has had any kind of boundaries. Now I declare that we explicitly know it and must constantly say it.

God cannot be bound by language. He subtends or encompasses all contradictions, the children of language. All things are true in Him. He can be both a Ground of all Being and a Father God at the same time. I use Joseph Campbell's idea of Myth and scientific quantum law to answer John Spong who says Christianity must change or die. My argument is mainly nonscriptural. But Spong's argument is nonscriptural too, although he tries well to prove otherwise.

My secular arguments, inasmuch as they involve Joe Campbell's study of the high truth of Myth, are not repugnant to scripture. Campbell has respected with a deep and abiding love all Given human scripture in everything he wrote. Campbell's Christian critics have focused more on his discussion of origins of scripture than on his interpretations of it. His interpretations were Inspired.

The philosophy I express is one that parallels the idea that one dies to hatred when she eschews rancor. She denies to enmity the fertile ground in which it would grow into those most loathsome of thorny vines with their bitter fruit of animosity. By an identical construction, the Church dies to change when it discovers anew the living water and vital soil of love and forgiveness. Conscious of their stewardship, faithful Christians endeavor to a spiritual environmentalism that conserves this, our most sweet fruitful tree of many ancient values and traditions. These have helped make Christianity the great religion, indeed the salvation, of billions of sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, all around the world. The Church dies to change by denying the destructive tendencies of contemporary social evolution.

The Quantum Church must also die in order to change. Old forms must be discarded when they shrink and become obsolete, like a snake's old skin. Otherwise those thin outward forms will strangle the spirit of the people. New ways of worship and praise must be invented, discovered or affirmed. Tolerance of every Christian's efforts to prayerfully enjoy the Triune Godhead through Jesus with the help of the Holy Spirit must be shown by every other Christian. The walls of the living tomb, this verdant mausoleum, that divide us must themselves die ‑ they must utterly disappear.

I exuberantly embrace Darwinian evolution with spiritual and intellectual evolution in the sense advocated by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in his powerful work The Phenomenon of Man
[ii] and many letters to his close friends. Yes, I do also consult the ultimate meaning of mythologist Joseph Campbell's life work. See The Power of Myth [iii], written with Bill Moyers. Those vivid mathematical descriptions of the ground of all being, Quantum Science, are also crucial elements in my approach, but my discussion is non-technical.

I differ with Bishop Spong. I do not believe that God is solely the Ground of All Being. He is utterly beyond Being. I think that Spong falls into the very trap that he criticizes others for failing to see: he puts God in a box. He defines Him and he believes his own definition. I say, now, not for the first time, we can consciously decide not to shackle God. We can deliberately avoid putting the manacles of language on Him. We can thereby free Him to do the wonderful things that He has always wanted to do for us. We can give Him the very permission that He gave us authority and responsibility to grant or withhold from Him. Finally, in modern times, partly with the help of science, God is Unbound.

I am a scientist. John Spong is an (emeritus) Episcopal bishop. He uses secular arguments to advance his thesis that Christianity must change. So, I feel compelled to do so also. Yes, I do indeed explain my position in terms of quantum science, Darwinism including the evolutionist views of Teilhard and the essential of Campbell. But I maintain, as Spong does, that the evidence is everywhere in scripture. I have provided appropriate references to the Bible and to sources of scriptural commentary.

Suffice it to say that scripture and extended scripture, consisting largely of today's continuing revelation in the form of verified science, implies that God exists and He is responsible for us in His truest image. This implication is inherent in our human quest for final essential truth, Absolute Truth. For if we had no notion of truth, falsehood would reign supreme and we would not even know it. But more importantly, we would have no standard with which to judge either. That standard is an ideal, and we must take this particular ideal as real or it has no motivating power. We have no choice but to believe in God.

I take that God made us in his image to mean He made us responsible beings. He cannot interfere in our affairs to save us from ourselves. We are responsible, so we must bear the consequences of our actions. Jetliners crash and hundreds are killed. But humans designed the aircraft, piloted it, maintained it and human air traffic controllers decided to land it in dangerous conditions. God would thereby revoke our privilege to act responsibly if He were to miraculously prevent the inevitable unholy accident.


We build cities in earthquake zones and at the feet of volcanoes, God doesn't. We sail ocean liners at full speed through iceberg laden waters, God doesn't. We poison the air and water so that even the tadpoles are encouraged to grow to be grotesquely deformed frogs while we suffer from heretofore most‑rare types of cancer. God doesn't poison things: He cleanses them.

* * * * *

I illustrate using religious graphics of the type that were made available to me by my very good friend and erstwhile mentor, Rev. George B. Koch, pastor of the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in West Chicago, Illinois. Art is a driving force in Christianity. Our religion cannot be discussed adequately without reference to it. Artistic endeavor has elevated Christian thought since long before the Middle Ages. It is so important that we can barely speak without referring to some concept, idea or notion that has not been influenced by artistic convention. The artist=s metaphor is part of faith.

This book (God Unbound) is for those readers who are searching their hearts and souls for an answer to the modern question "Is God real?" You want to believe, maybe even attend church, but you wonder if there can really be a God in the light of science. I have written an apology for the Christian Faith and thereby apologize for all faiths. You are the same ladies and gentlemen who sought John Spong's answer and I know that you seek this book also.


[i]. Why Christianity Must Change Or Die; A Bishop Speaks to Believers in Exile - A New Reformation of the Church=s Faith and Practice, Rt. Rev. John S Spong, HarperSanFrancisco, 1998
[ii]. The Phenomenon of Man, Pierre Teilard de Chardin
[iii]. The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers,